Oh Those were the (Cadet) days

As the semester comes to a close, every cadet looks back with the air of a conqueror as he tries to recall once more the events that made this semester what it was. As he racks his memory, he invariably visualizes the happy as well as the unhappy events, sometimes, but more often than not, in their chronological order.

Uppermost in the mind of a cadet are the long, tedious and unappreciated hours of lectures and drills that he has spent in the classrooms and on the drill grounds. In the classroom, he sees the instructor (usually a non-com) already perspiring as he tries to impress upon cadets some of whom are busy taking notes while others are not even listening at all, the basic fundamentals of modern warfare. While on the drill grounds, there is that vivid picture of himself and his fellow cadets marching to the dissonant music struck up by the “old unreliable” band led by Cdt. Sgt. Jose “Tikboy” Alonzo. On other occasions, he sees the cadets doing the combat drills. This consists of squad formations given by hand signals and executed at a run with the rifle held at high port. Usually confusion arises as the cadets forget where to face, forget their places, etc. Sometimes the cadets are ordered to crawl on their bellies in any kind of ground. The nerve of those … officers!

Ah yes, once there was a parade and review in honor of the college officials and those selected beauties commonly known as cadet sponsors. That was way back on February, an affair that any cadet will not easily forget. Morale was at its highest peak then. The cadets in their best and newly pressed uniforms, this time with ties, turned out en masse to accord their sponsors and college officials present, the honor that was due them. It was climaxed by the pinning of the insignias by the Dean of the sponsors “who were radiant during the occasion”, to quote our commandant. How every cadet wished that he were also an officer! For isn’t it a fact that only the cadet officers have the privilege of having beautiful sponsors by their sides? He remembers well (and who won’t); there was charming Concepcion Valera (sigh . . .) the Battalion Sponsor; tall and lovely Ester Dizon of the Battalion Staff; beauteous Leonor Mondoñedo of Company A, and vivacious Zenaida Alcala of Company B. Remarked the commandant after the parade, “In spite of the scarcity of women in this place, still you were able to find such charming and beautiful sponsors.” Yes, siree! The art of scouting and patrolling was really used to advantage.

Another affair that most cadets would not like to forget was the holding of the Cadet’s Ball in the Senior’s Social Garden on February 19. It was a time that most cadets had been waiting for, for it was only then when the cadets and cadet officers were more or less on the same level with each other. What cadet could not do on the drill grounds, he did in the dance hall. In fact most of the officers were relegated to the background as the cadets dominated the dance floor. Besides, there were beautiful girls from he environs and nearby town of Los Baños as well as from the far-away places like U.P. Diliman, San Pablo City, and Lucena, with whom he had a chance of dancing and getting acquainted with. Oh, boy; what a fine time he had! And as night began to grow old and the strains of “Goodnight Sweetheart” could be heard, he and we realized that the last cadet social for the semester was becoming a memory. But we parted with a resolution that this event will always hold a cherished spot in our memories of ’49.

The following Monday, however, found the cadet and his comrades back in their old familiar haunts … the classrooms and drill grounds with the omnipresent officers and instructors, this time in preparation for the Annual Tactical Inspection. Here he tried to brush up on subjects that were likely to be asked during the inspection. This preparation included overtime lectures.

However, before the tactical inspection came around, a number of events took place that had a bearing on the activities of the cadets. He recollects with pride how the local ROTC team twice licked the Southern Luzon Zone, PC basketball team when the latter paid the cadets a visit. Another happening worth remembering was the visit of the commanders of the different military areas in the Philippines and the members of their staff, upon the invitation of Col. Dizon, the commander of II Military Area. That was Sunday, February 27, but in spite of it the cadets were on hand to give a parade and review in honor of the visiting army top brass. These were Lt. Colonel Echavarre, Causin and Mortera of the I, III, and IV Military Areas respectively, and of course, our Lt. Colonel Dizon of II MA AFP, who had nothing but praise for the splendid showing of the cadets during the parade and review. The commandant tried to exercise his vocal cords in reciting the litany of achievements of the different top brass such that he sometimes overdid his job. He and his adjutant, including, the cadet officers were congratulated for their boys’ splendid behavior.

At last, the much-awaited day came around, the tactical inspection that the boys had been preparing for. It was literally a sort of final examination for the cadets. He sees now a battery of inspecting officers bombard the cadets with questions and situations pertaining to the subjects supposed to be covered for the semester.

Finally, he turns his attention once more for the last time maybe, to the commandant, adjutant, non-coms of the commandant’s staff, and those cadet officers and cadet non-coms without which the memories of a cadet will be incomplete. This is how he remembers them:

Strict but fair and understanding is the commandant, Luciano IR. Gunabe, Capt., Inf. PA AFP. It was due to his persistent efforts and high-pressure approaches to the Dean that the parade and review with sponsors and Cadet’s Ball were made possible. According to him these are S.O.P. (Standing Operation procedures) for the cadets to perform and he can prove it by facts. In other words, he wants his cadets to have a balanced program of activities to lessen the monotony of the course. Yes sir, we are looking forward to more of these things in the near future.

Assisting the commandant is the energetic and able-bodied adjutant, Mariano S. Dizon, 1st Lt. Inf. PA, AFP. Energetic because he is the driving power behind the different cadet activities like the successful Cadet’s Ball, the showing of training films, better discipline among the cadets and the last but not least the painting of the cadets’ helmets and leggings. As a matter of fact, he is always ready to help the cadets out of their troubles, even personal ones at that. Are you listening boys?

Of the two noncoms in the commanding office, Cpl. Gicana is the one cadets are fully acquainted with. But when he is using a bike, be sure to clear the road or else, well, you know what. If not, ask the cadets.

Sgt. Partisala in the other hand is no longer connected with the ROTC. He is remembered by the cadets for his persevering lectures and at the same time for his unique behavior that only the cadets could describe.

Not to be left behind is the “old Dependable” armorer-artificier of the Los Baños ROTC Unit, Mang Isiong. From the simple .45 cal. pistol to the complicated .30 cal machine gun, he is at home when it comes to the disassembly and assembly of these guns. But he seems to be more active in the baseball diamond with the ball and the bat. Isn’t it, Mang Isiong?

And now, the . . . cadet o-o-o-ff-i-cers! Most ranking of them all is that eve-towering Bn. Comdr. Cadet Major Teofilo “Lankoy” Fran. Aside from being an able military man, he is popular among the college population (especially to the fair sex?). If anyone wants to look for him outside the drill grounds or the basketball court, just watch for a six-footer who poses every time he sees a camera. And no mistaking, he is your man. Isn’t it Lank. . .er, er, Major Fran?

Next in line of seniority and rank are the three Cadet Captains, namely: Guillermo “Mito” Francisco Jr., Roberto “Katoy” Fronda, and Apolinario “Joaquin” Maligaya, the Bn Executive Officer, and the two company commanders of “A” and “B” companies, respectively. Mito has also a liking for basketball and soccer, but sometimes his opponents complain about some of his demeanors. Because of this, more and more people prefer to see him solve the cross-word puzzles or play his “tonett” rather than any of these games. Now, one on you, Mito.

Katoy, on the other hand is a noisy water the runs deep. And when it comes to the exhaust gasses of tractors, he can differentiate blindfoldly a Farmall from Ford. Ask his Pop. For further information, please contact er; er, Sp…

And if we would be looking for an all-around athlete among cadet officers, Joaquin will surely pass for one.

Going down to the 1st Louies, we have the two company ExOs namely: Almario de (todos) Los Santos and Alfonso (XIII) Dingayan of A and B companies, respectively. (Cdt. Dingayan was promoted from a platoon leader to Company ExO vice Cdt. Leandro Sinco who retired from active service in the Cadet Corps). Almario is the same fine guy that we know; quiet and unassuming but always a friend in need if you are being boxed by someone. Alfonso XIII Dingayan, on the other hand, is starting to settle down somewhere if one were to judge him during the Cadet’s Ball. Although an Animal Husbandry Major like Almario, he has other plans aside from the raising of animals. And that’s the raising of oh. . .ouch! (no boxing please).

Of special mention are Cdt. 2nd Louies Gabriel “Bebeng” Aquino of San Pablo City; and Orlando “Makabunot” Santos of the Colors, Fidel Dijamco, Eleuterio “Heliong” Aguas, Felipe “Lanutan” Belen and Jose “Tikboy” Alonzo, the adjutant, S-2, S-3, of the Bn., and band leader, respectively. (According to latest information from GHQ, ROTC Los Baños, Cdt. Lt. Aquino is also assigned as S-4 of the Battalion).

Be-moustached and good-looking, that is Bebeng. At first sight one can easily mistake him for Rogelio Poe (if ever there was one). Unfortunately the talent scouts of the different studios in Manila have not seen him yet or else we will be missing him a lot. More so with that someone in the Poultry Avenue, (ehem). Ask anyone who knows.

As for ” Makabunot”, well, everybody knows that he is small but terrible. Just watch him play basketball, soccer of “Big Time” softball and you could hardly believe your eyes. But when he approaches the girls, boy, he is more than terrible. He is horrible, horrible. Now watch out ladies, here he comes.

Our reliable adjutant is no other than our “Habe” Fidel. If only you could imagine who could walk as fast as his long legs could carry him, then that’s Fidel in person. But be sure you don’t say “Hattention to Horders!” Heh Fidel?

And by the way, Heliong is the provincemate, housemate, and sometimes the toothbrush mate of Fidel. Although an Agronomy major, he always manages to appear neat and clean and that puzzles his friends and classmates alike. But a rural coed from the crossing frowns with the way he cuts his hair. Too high for comfort she says. Now, Heliong, this is a hint.

Cdt. Felipe “Lanutan” Belen is one who rose from the ranks to his present post. (Formerly a S/Sgt., he was promoted to his present rank in place of Cdt. David Marie Daza who honorably and voluntarily discharged himself from the Cadet Corps). His case must serve as an example for interested cadets to follow. But when he claims that the “Hagutan” is called “Lanutan” in San Pablo City, then that’s a different story. Ask Dr. David.

Well, Tikboy is beginning to count the days for his expected commissionship. Being the only capable man to handle the band, his promotion seems to be right in the bag. Just listen to the band tune up in “Pronto Jose” and you will be convinced of the able management of Tikboy.

Ultimately those “always available but nowhere to be found” platoon leaders now take the floor. For A Company, there Cdt. lts Florante Zg. Salvador and Agusto “Gat” Gonzales. Flor is of the belief that an inspiration has a direct influence upon the physical activities of an individual. So when he commands “Stee. . . dy”, rest assured that all cadets in Company A are properly aligned. Otherwise Flor was not inspired by that someone in the Crossing that he first saw one day at 7:00 A.M. Now, now, don’t turn rosy red, Flor.

Gat Gonzales, on the other hand, is majoring in engineering with minor in LTB transportation department. No wonder he is not around during Sundays. If, however, he is around during these days, something unfavorable is bound to happen, according to Kibitiani.

In B Company, one can find Cdt. Lts. Jorge “Ojec” Juliano, Jaime “Machan” Santiago, and Fernando “Unexpendable” Roy. Ojec is an up and coming agricultural chemist as well as army man. An amiable guy, he counts with quite a number of loyal and sincere friends among the cadets and the student as well. Others call him just plain Bayaw. Well, who knows anyway?

Cdt. Machan is a fellow who becomes easily acclimatized, localized, rheumatized, etc.. wherever he goes. His only handicap is that he easily becomes invisible man even when it is only four o’clock in the afternoon. But when it comes to girls, he is not far behind. Just watch him dance the apalachi with Linda and the slow drag with Eve. He surely drags himself and his partner.

Cdt. Fernando “Unexpendable” Roy can cook as well as he can command. This is the reason why his fellow cadets do not like to lose track of him. His favorite expression is “Meet me in the kitchen.” Where, when and how?”

And last but not least are the innumerable noncoms and cadets that make up the majority of what is known as the Cadet Corps. Without them there will be no cadet officers, no commandant, and most important of all, no Los Baños ROTC Unit. So to them, this humble recollection of events is heartily dedicated. Dismissed!

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